Andy Jerrard

Rural Support Worker

Although not strictly a member of this Circuit, Andy's important work has been supported by us for many years. He now works across the Plymouth and Exeter District, but is a frequent visitor to West Devon.

He says “The title incorporates many of the big questions of life such as Who, What and Why?

The Who? Born in Bristol, raised in Devon, lived abroad for five years (Cornwall), currently resident in a barn near Crediton. Variously milked cows, sold seeds and plumbed the depths of Devon’s rivers (as an employee of the Environment Agency). Married with one wife, a large number of pets (all stuffed and called Eeyore) and two Land Rovers.

The What? At various times the job title gets re-worded to suit the occasion but includes the words ’part-time’ and ‘lay’ which are probably self explanatory even if not always accurate! Rural is slightly more difficult because to some people the huge metropolis of Black Torrington may seem to be more urban than rural whereas to others the large conurbations of Bideford and Bude may seem to be more rural than urban. Worker should also be an easy title to understand although in conjunction with Rural it can cause some confusion – some have thought it involves forestry/conservation work, others a new way of describing farm work. Support involves providing just that, sometimes as a walking stick might, in other situations more as a pit prop (and like pit props rather more than one person might be involved). Enabler means getting other people to do my work (although in conjunction with support it means helping them to do my work!)

The Why? When milk quotas came along and were quickly followed by Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) in an area that has a lot of dairy farms, many of which are family run and relatively small, a group of local Christians realised that Something Had To Be Done. This involved employing someone to provide a listening ear to help alleviate the difficulties caused by isolation. So well have the previous incumbents of this post fulfilled that task that it was realised that there is a huge need which requires more than one person to meet it. There has in fact always been more than one person involved as there is not only the person employed but also the Management Committee and, not least, the members of the supporting Circuits for whose help I am very grateful. One of the ways in which we have sought to widen the role is by developing a Market Chaplaincy Team. This involves a presence at Holsworthy Market every Wednesday, at the monthly market of cattle from farms affected by Bovine Tuberculosis restrictions and at some farm sales. It is hoped that it will be possible to expand this work into other markets. Further developments revolve around setting up new pastoral teams as well as sharing the work with teams that are already established or are being newly formed by the various Church groups within the area. A key aspect of it all is to find out how much rural pastoral support already exists and to work together to make best use of all resources.

The overriding purpose of this role is to help fulfil the churches purpose of demonstrating the love and concern that Jesus had for all in the community that exists within and without the Church building.”

Email Andy 

Phone Andy: 07801 755732